This is my very favorite seated spinal warm up.
It is perfect on its own or at the start of your practice.
Typically I run through this sequence either before or after my meditations. (And sometimes both!)
First settle in and take a few deep breaths into your belly and your heart, centering your energy and finding a bit of calm.
Then on an inhale breath, reach arms up overhead. Think about lengthening your rib cage out of your hips and creating energy all the way up to your fingertips. On your exhale, lower your right hand down to the mat and reach up and over for a side body stretch.
Don’t forget to take the opposite side.
Feel free to move on your breath from one side to the next, or to hold the side body stretch for a few rounds of breath. If it feels right on your neck, you can look up to the ceiling – past your top elbow.
Next, find a seated spinal twist on each side. Continue to ground down through your sits bones and to reach tall through your crown. Do your best to twist from your lowest ribs, and not from your shoulders. Then turn your gaze over your back shoulder.
Give yourself another long reach over head and come into a forward fold. Allow your tailbone to stretch backward and your collarbone to stretch forward and then let your head and neck relax. While you are here, see if you can feel the stretch along your spine as you inhale – feeling your ribs stretching out and away from your spine.
Take a moment to switch the cross of your legs, taking your opposite ankle in front or on top. Then re-settle into your seat and get ready for some movement through your neck and throat.
Interlace your fingers behind your back and reach your knuckles for the floor. Allow your right ear to fall to your right shoulder and feel the deep stretch across the left side of your neck. If you would like to deepen the stretch, pull your fists to your right hip.
Take a few breaths, feeling your ribs expand wide like an accordion, then repeat on your left.
Keeping your fingers interlaced, reach your hands down and away from your body and let your head drop back, lifting your chin to the ceiling. Let your inhales fill up your chest, broadening across your collarbones.
Then release your hands and drop your chin to your chest. Keep your shoulders stacked right over your hips and your bellybutton lifting upward. If you want to take this stretch a little further, rest your palms on the roundest part of your skull. Make sure not to pull or tug at your head, simply rest your hands and let gravity take care of the rest.
If you like after this, you can take a few neck rolls and shoulder rolls if it feels right.
Coming back into your spinal twist add a deeper side body stretch by reaching your back arm up and over your ear and stacking your shoulders over your thigh. Do your best to keep the rotation in your torso and open your heart toward the ceiling, while keeping your sits bones rooted to the floor. (A lot to accomplish, I know.)
Lastly, give your self one more big beautiful reach to the sky and forward fold again. You should feel this stretch in your opposite hip since we reversed the cross in our legs earlier. Just like before, lengthen through your spine and feel the movement of your breath as it travels up and down your back.
Once you are done, give yourself another few moments to take any movement that feels natural and good and maybe close your eyes down for a few more deep breaths.
Notice how your body feels now, and set an intention for your day.
This is always my go to sequence for my early morning classes and with beginner students. What are some poses and sequences that you come back to again and again?
I’d love to see you give this simple but satisfying sequence a try and let me know what you think!
What did you like or not like? How did you feel? Did you take it on its own or before a stronger practice?
Do you know anyone who could benefit from beginning a yoga practice?